Welcome to our world

“Walkin’ down the street, smoggy-eyed
Looking at the sky, starry-eyed
Searchin’ for the place, weary-eyed
Crying in the night, teary-eyed”

“Don’t you know that it’s true
That for me and for you
The world is a ghetto”

“Don’t you know that it’s true
That for me and for you
The world is a ghetto”

“Wonder when I’ll find paradise
Somewhere there’s a home sweet and nice
Wonder if I’ll find happiness
Never give it up now I guess”

“Don’t you know that it’s true
That for me and for you
The world is a ghetto”

“Don’t you know that it’s true
That for me and for you
The world is a ghetto”–War circa 1972

Listening to the news today, I couldn’t help but notice the stark difference in the media sensationalism with gun violence.  For some reason, I still expect some semblance of balanced journalism from the corporate owned media outlets.  At the same time, I still get let down by the ratings and advertising revenue chasing aspect of the media as opposed to providing some semblance of balanced news reporting.

This afternoon, another school shooting took place in Marysville, Washington.  One student was killed, and there are 4 others in critical condition.  Unlike most other school shootings, this one was perpetrated by a popular student as opposed to the typical loner or outcast.  The gun used allegedly belonged to the father of the shooter which means that it was likely a legally purchased and owned gun.

My sympathies go out to the students and families affected by this tragedy.  I send out anger and scorn to the media and the talking heads over the selective reporting of violent incidents like this.

Since the shooting occurred, I’ve heard the actions, thoughts, and everything else about the shooter being analyzed on tv by people who don’t have a clue about this guy.  The media outlets have gone through social media accounts to piece together as much as they can about the shooter.  Some outlets have interviewed students live on-air to get an idea of what the victims were like in school.

When this happens in Chicago, or some other urban setting, why is there not equal reporting or analysis?  Why don’t we hear the stories about the victims of these violent incidents?  Why isn’t there wall-to-wall coverage analyzing every single aspect about the incident?  We don’t even see televised press conferences when shootings happen in urban environments unless there’s a baby or little kid killed.

Well, in case you haven’t figured it out already, there is no avoiding or escaping violence.  There’s violence all around us daily.  We just choose to ignore it until it comes knocking at our front door.  Then, when violence rings our doorbell, it’s an urgent matter that has to be dealt with swiftly.  As long as it’s happening on the other side of the tracks, it’s out of sight and out of mind.

You can’t escape violence by turning off the television or moving to the suburbs.  As we all know, violence knows no racial, social, or economic status.  The sooner we all realize that we’re rowing the same ship, the sooner we can all work together to limit the possibility of violence striking at your feet.  Don’t think for a second that you’re immune to violence.  The world is a ghetto, and we’re all residing there regardless of our station in life.

Friday Funny 12-20-13

Watching this first short video had me in tears.  When one thinks of a Kodiak Bear, you don’t think of Yogi or Boo Boo, but this guy comes awful close.

Further searching on this video revealed there is more than one bear, and these bears are residents of the Olympic Game Farm in Sequim, Washington.  If I’m out that way, I’ve definitely gotta stop by for a tour, even if it’s just to say hi.


A view from outside the exceptional bubble

On Wednesday October 2nd, the German business daily Handelsblatt ran this cover with the caption "The Blocked World Power".

On Wednesday October 2nd, the German business daily Handelsblatt ran this cover with the caption “The Blocked World Power”.

Looking at news outlets from around the world really gives you a perspective on what people think about the US government shutdown.  It doesn’t take much reading to see that we’re on our way from being the world’s economic superpower to the world’s laughing-stock.

Giving its reaction Spiegel Online said: “A superpower has paralyzed itself.” But it added that politicians were working in Washington to solve the crisis and said there was still hope for an agreement.

The Welt newspaper warned of “fatal consequences” stating the “unthinkable has happened.” The shutdown puts the world economy in danger, it added. “The fear is real that the tender US recovery will be damaged,” it said.

The newspaper described the US president as being between a “rock and a hard place”. “Either he breaks the law and no longer pays teachers, firefighters and FBI agents, or he ignores the debt ceiling, which would also be illegal,” it said.

For the Zeit newspaper, the blame lay with a “handful of radicals” who did not want to compromise and would rather hold a country hostage to their ideology.

“Not only are millions of government workers affected but all Americans, as the inability to pay, if it lasts for weeks, will have fatal affects on the economy,” it said.

“A small group of uncompromising Republican ideologues in the House of Representatives are principally responsive for this disaster,” it said. “They are not only taking their own party to the brink, but the whole country. Unfortunately the leadership of this party has neither had the courage nor the backbone to put them in their place.”

For the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, US budget policy was often “extremely dubious”. “For years the financial year has begun on October 1st without an orderly budget adopted by Congress and signed off by the President,” it said.

The newspaper added that Obama’s health reforms – hated by the Republicans – rather than the budget, was the real battleground currently being fought over.  

The French newspaper Le Monde  posted an editorial whose name translates to “Jefferson, awake, they have become insane!”.  The BBC reported “That leaders of one of the most powerful nations on earth willingly provoked a crisis that suspends public services and decreases economic growth is astonishing to many.”  I could go on, but it’s safe to say that others are looking at us in a worldwide WTF??? type of way.

We have nobody but ourselves to blame for this.  We held the elections that put these people in office.  We’ll be the ones voting to determine whether they stay in office.  Looking at the fact that, historically, elected members of Congress have a re-election rate that hovers near 85%, I think it’s safe to say that this won’t be the last time our elected officials embarrass us.

It will be interesting to see how people in the world respond to us after this is said and done.  We’ll likely hear whining from both sides about who was at fault.  Nobody in DC seems to be addressing the fact that we’re undercutting our having the world’s reserve currency.  If they think our debt issues or the PPACA are bad, just imagine our issues would multiply if we were no longer the world’s reserve currency.

You can’t talk about being the example for democracy when you can’t even fund basic government operations.  Even where countries are in turmoil, they still fund and keep the government open.  I think many Americans would be offended if we had United Nations observers here to watch our next election, but maybe we need a slap to the face like that.  Instead of being so high on our hubris, we may need to come down a notch or two so that we can see what we have and learn to appreciate it instead of allowing others to destroy it.

It’s bad when our allies have issued travel warnings to the US, but Germany and the UK both issued such warnings this week as a response to the shutdown.

As our politicians bumble our infrastructure crumbles

This weekend represents the final chance for Congress to enact a continuing resolution to fund the government.  For many Americans, this isn’t something that’s new or even remotely unexpected.  Sadly, it has become the norm when it comes to running our government and we should expect better.  We send 535 individuals to Washington D.C. every two years, and their primary purpose is to ensure the continuity of our country, which also includes the continuity of the government.

Normally, our budget is passed through several appropriations bills.  These bills are supposed to be written, debated, passed, and signed by the president before October 1st to ensure we have the budget in place to run the government.  According to TheHill.com, the last time this happened was in 1994.  Since then, we’ve had the shutdown of 1995 and continuing resolutions since then.  Some continuing resolutions have been for the full fiscal year, while others have been stopgap measures.  This year appears to be no different.

Each year, it appears to get worse and worse.  Why do we continue to send the same people to Washington D.C and expect different results?  This year has got to be the worst one yet.  We have a party who wants to shut down the government and threaten a default on our debts unless the other party agrees to enact their losing presidential candidate’s platform plus their entire party agenda.  In what bizarro world does one lose an election on a platform and threaten destruction to get it enacted?  If I were responsible for sending any of them to Congress, I would be utterly ashamed of my vote.

While we have been dealing with this issue over the past two decades, our national infrastructure is returning to the dust from which it came.  We have seen several bridge collapses.  Some were caused by accidents while others were caused by wear and tear.  We have an outdated air traffic system that will eventually get too crowded to work properly.

We saw a global economic collapse in 2008 that shook this country to its core.  Instead of working together to rebuild our economy and our country, we have representatives acting like petulant kids intent on finishing off what the recession could not do.  The GOP is focused on defunding the PPACA since their numerous attempts at repealing have amounted to an effort that would supplant Vinko Bogataj as “the agony of defeat” if ABC Wide World of Sports were to ever go back into production.  Maybe they should take a hint from one of their own Sen. Tom Coburn from Oklahoma.

“The only time you shut down the government is when you shut it down and refuse to open it until you accomplish what you want. But we’ll fold like hotcakes,” Coburn told reporters. “You do not take a hostage you are not going to for sure shoot. And we will not for sure shoot this hostage.”

If a staunch conservative can see the writing on the wall, why are we even being subjected to this ordeal?  Every time they bumble, another mile of highway crumbles.  I sure hope your auto and health insurance premiums are up to date.  You may need them much sooner than you think.

Related To History

This week has seen lots of media coverage on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.  One thing that always bothered me about the historical reporting of that event is that the full and correct name of the event is rarely used.  It was actually called the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom”.  Truncating the name has led to not accurately and completely portraying what that event was all about.  That in itself is a great topic for discussion, but not for today.  Today, I simply want to say thanks to a relative who was there and share his story a bit for some who may not have seen or heard it already.  It’s a source of pride to know that a family member is being recognized alongside names like John Lewis, Dr. Martin Luther King, and others who had major and minor roles in pulling off that event.

Left photo: Robert Avery of Gadsden, Alabama on the National Mall in Washington Dc on August 28, 1963 Right photo: Robert Avery, Gadsden City Councilman District 3 today.

Robert Avery’s involvement with the Civil Rights Movement predated the historic March on Washington.  He traveled as a youth speaker to raise funds for the Movement and also participated in protests in Gadsden before the age of 15.  To this date, he still has scars from cattle prods that were used on him during the protests.  While significant in their own right, his actions in those other areas pale in comparison with his odyssey to participate in the March on Washington.

On a dark night in August 1968, three young men started on a 700 mile journey with history.  Frank Thomas (age 17), James Smith (age 16), and Robert Avery (age 15) set off on foot from Gadsden, Alabama with the goal of reaching Washington D.C. to participate in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  They walked and hitchhiked along U.S. Highway 11 passing a spot where a postman, William Moore, was shot and killed while conducting a one man protest march to deliver a letter to the Governor of Mississippi Ross Barnett.  Along the way, they were picked up by drivers, White and Black, who aided them along in their trip even with them carrying a sign that made it obvious they were going to Washington D.C.

When they reached Washington D.C., they made contact with people in the Civil Rights Movement who helped them find a place to stay and put them to work.  They were some of the first people to arrive in D.C., and they began to assemble the numerous pre-printed signs that marchers carried during that historical event.  While they were there working, they even had the opportunity to converse with Dr. King who had traveled through Gadsden prior to his arrival in D.C.  Even after that event, Robert kept up his involvement with the movement even traveling to Birmingham, a.k.a. “Bombingham”, after the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church.

Looking back on that even, it’s hard to imagine myself in his shoes.  While I like to think that I have the courage to speak up when I feel things are wrong, I don’t know if I would have been able to take on such a challenge right after I celebrated my 15th birthday.  Seeing his photo and story recounted alongside other stories of Civil Rights leaders is an honor unlike any I’ve felt before in my life.  There are other relatives who have done things and are widely recognized around the world.  However, their impact on the world has yet to resonate to the extent that Robert’s has.  I’ve already began telling my daughters about this and other family stories.  I want to ensure they know where they come from in order to know where they’re going.

CNN is airing an original documentary, “We Were There:  The March On Washington – An Oral History” which premiered on Friday night.  It will rebroadcast tonight, Sunday August 25th, at 8pm EST.